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Showing posts from June, 2017

Gigolo A Go Go - Episode 6

The other night, I was sitting outside, drinking Palomas, daydreaming in the darkness.  I imagined that I was on a beach in Guyana, with my funky friends, at one of Joe Strummer's bonfires.  At some point, Joe shouts over to me, "Hey, Mr. Gigolo, play us some lovers rock."
Well, here is the mix.  Lovers Rock, that sweet, romantic reggae style that was born in London in the early 70s.  Combining Philadelphia Soul with a rocksteady beat, it is timeless in its swaying groove and tenderness.
I've also sprinkled in a little ska, dub, and roots reggae to spice things up.
I'd like to think Joe would approve.

Here is the playlist:
Lovers Mood by Augustus Pablo
Groovy Situation by Keith Rowe
Dancing Mood by Delroy Wilson
Permanent Lover by Gregory Isaacs
My Conversation by Slim Smith & The Uniques
Everything I Own by Ken Boothe
Stick By Me (And I'll Stick By You) by John Holt
I'm Not Crazy by Don Carlos
In The Midnight Hour / Ya Ya by George Faith
Can't Get You Out…

La Chancha - Eddie Palmieri

from the album Sabiduría (2017)

Growing up in the South Bronx, Eddie Palmieri leaned how to play piano in the NYC Public Schools.  To say he was good is an understatement.  When he was eleven years old, he performed at Carnegie Hall.  Soon after, he was playing in bands, riffing on Thelonious Monk.

Now eighty years old, he has released Sabiduría, an album of mind-bending latin jazz that would be the envy of men half his age.

The song I'm digging most is La Chancha.  This composition is a classic mambo with a twist: the addition of a violin track, masterfully played by Alfredo de la Fe.  The combination of violin and vibraphone (Joe Locke) solos adds a new spark to this mambo, making it a most exciting listen.  The congas (Johnny Rivero) are also magnificent.  Underpinning it all is the incredible timing and mastery of Eddie Palmieri on the piano.

This song is an example of how this grammy-award winning legend continues to innovate at eighty.  The quality, energy, and classic beaut…

Across The Multiverse - Dent May

from the forthcoming album Across The Multiverse (2017)

As the seasons change, so do my drink and song preferences.  In winter, I fancy a glass of Côte Du Rhone, or perhaps a stiff Manhattan.  In the summer, I am all about Polomas, a refreshing mix of Cuervo Tradicíonal and grapefruit soda garnished with a ruby red grapefruit wedge.  They are yummy.  In fact, I am drinking one now.

In regard to music, my summertime music mixes are all about feeling good and happy.  No moody folk or hard rock (why is it that the harder the rock, the less sense of humor?), but rather reggae, ska, retro pop and soul.  You can also throw in some of those early 80s artists that help me feel young.

Across The Multiverse is a retro pop tune by Dent May.  With a hint of bouncing disco in its groove and horns inspired by Burt Bacharach, this is the perfect summer tune.  Sung as a duet with folkster Frankie Cosmos, this song sounds like it jumped off the soundtrack to a future Guardians Of The Galaxy movie.

Rath…

(Satis) Faction - The Danish Radio Big Band & Charlie Watts

from the album Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band (2017)

The only time I ever saw The Rolling Stones live was at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, during the band's Voodoo Lounge tour.  Most of my 70,000 closest friends had better seats, causing me to watch much of the concert on the large screen displays.

The opening act was Bryan Adams.  Despite not being too far the pinnacle of his career, he seemed small on stage.  Neither his performance nor his sound could fill such a large setting.  It was a disappointment.

Shortly after, The Stones took the stage.  Everything was large.  The pyrotechnics.  The sound.  Big stuff.  Mick Jagger commanded the large stage, while Keith Richards and Ron Woods stalked about the stage like sharks readying for a feeding frenzy.

But the thing that captivated me most was Charlie Watts.  His beat filled the dome.  It was steady and strong, creating the foundation for the frontmen to dazzle the crowd.

In the years that followed, every time I hear …

Superstar - Hollie Cook

from the single Superstar b/w Superdub (2017)

Hollie Cook's brand of slightly downtempo, London-centric reggae and dub has consistently produced some of my favorite music of the decade.  Her songs are central to the soundtrack of my summers.

Add to that playlist Superstar, a cover of classic Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell song made most popular by The Carpenters in 1971.  That version has always stood out to me with Richard Carpenter choice of an oboe in the opening measures, Karen Carpenter's voice, and the tightness of the Wrecking Crew.  Truth told, I really dig the oboe.

Hollie Cook's version opens with heavy organ replacing the oboe, followed by the introduction of reggae instruments segueing into a delicious, bouncing vibe.  By the time the vocals enter, you are swept into the hooks, singing:

Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby?

This is the stuff summer dreams are made of.

Click Here to listen to Hollie Cook's cover of Superstar.

Click Here to rea…

Get Lost - Washed Out

from the single Get Lost (2017)

Washed Out is the stage name for Ernest Greene, a Georgia boy known for creating stirring dance music that melds classic vibes with eclectic instrumentation and innovation with great result.

Get Lost is a pre-release from a forthcoming album, Mister Mellow.  The heavy groove makes this song perfect for the club and the serpentine synthesizers make it perfect for the poolside.  Either way, this song will be bouncing in lots of heads this summer.

Click Here to watch the official video for Get Lost.

Trouble - Zkeletonz

from the single Trouble (2017)

My world surrounds me with with artists, technology wizards, and small business people, all embracing a Do It Yourself approach to making a living.  They make art, music, websites, corn dogs, manage AirBNB properties, and a host of other bootstrapped goodies.  The common threads they share are endless supplies of work hard and passion.  I dig that.

Zkeletonz are a group of likeminded music lovers based in London.  They "play music and throw parties firmly fixed in the sonic space between traditional bands and DJ sets."  In addition, they run a local rehearsal and recording studio - Kafri - in London.  They also host a recurring show on Boogaloo Radio (available on MixCloud).

Everything is interlocked and cross promoting.  Clever.  They are Do It Yourselfers of the first order.  I am certain that if we ever met, we would become fast friends.

On January 1st, they released Trouble, the first in an ambitious string of releases planned for this year…

Had To Let Me Go - Nite Jewel

from the album Real High (2017)

Nite Jewel is the stage name for Ramona Gonzalez, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles.  She is part of a growing breed of singer-songwriters who embrace grooves and electronica over acoustic guitars.  She is most widely known for her song Nowhere To Go, which appears on the Grand Theft Auto 5 soundtrack.

I am really digging her new song Had To Let Me Go.  With a chilled down vibe and slinky groove, this song is perfect for both burnt-out afternoons and moonlit cocktails.

The melody, groove, and vibe set the stage for her splendid vocal abilities.  She seamlessly alternates between a laid back songbird in the verses to a soaring chartreuse in the chorus.

It is hard not to get lost in this song.

Click Here to listen to Had To Let Me Go.

Music Is The Answer - Joe Goddard

from the album Electric Lines (2017)

Music is the answer, to your problems
Keep on moving, then you can solve them
Music is the answer, to your problems
Keep on moving, then you can solve them

If only it were that easy.  Over the past few years, I have had to deal with death, disease, heartbreak, job loss, and a boatload of other drama despite endlessly listening to music and playing bass guitar for nearly an hour a day.

However, music is a fantastic coping tool.  I honestly do not know how I would have survived the last paragraph without music (and my dogs).

Music Is The Answer by Joe Goddard has been part of the mix for the past few months.  I really dig the song's soothing vibe and downtempo feel.  It is like diving deep into a cool lake on warm summer day.  The intertwining microgrooves that underpin the arrangement are wonderful, as are the vocals.

When the song is over, I find myself repeating the central mantra:  Music is the answer, to your problems.

Perhaps Joe Goddard is righ…

Gravity Rules - 5 Billion In Diamonds

from the single Gravity Rules (2017)

Butch Vig is a celebrated producer and musician.  His production credits include Nirvana's Nevermind and the albums Gish and Siamese Dream for The Smashing Pumpkins.  He has also served as a member of the band Garbage, co-writing the songs Stupid Girl and Only Happy When It Rains.

This August, he launches his latest project, a band named 5 Billion In Diamonds.  Their debut single Gravity Rules has become a playlist favorite of mine over the past couple of months.

With its acoustic guitar and floating production, the song gives off a seventies vibe reminiscent of fuzzed out nights smoking dope in your friend's mother's Camaro.

What is amazing though is how that vibe slides right in with other modern songs.  I believe that part of it is the tune's impeccable production.  I find myself listening ti this song over and over, repeatedly picking out the beauty in its craftsmanship.

Can't wait to hear the rest...

Click Here to watch the …

Beautiful Gun - Alison Moyet

from the album Other (2017)

If I could travel back in time on musical journeys, one of my destinations would certainly be E.C. Ratcliffe's London studio in 1982.  It was there that Vince Clarke returned - after recording Depeche Mode's debut album, Speak & Spell, the previous year- to lay down a new dance song he had written for his new act.

That song - Only You - would become a global dance sensation.  To capitalize on their unforeseen success, the band rushed back into the studio and haphazardly recorded additional material.  The result was the Yazoo album Upstairs At Eric's (named for the studio), perhaps the most important synth pop album ever recorded.

One of the amazing things about this record is how it connects with listeners.  Many of the people I know - including myself - who cherished this album back in 1982, still do today.  Beyond that, Upstair's At Eric's has managed to remain fresh, attracting new generations of listeners thirty-five years after …

Maskindans - Todd Terje

from the single Maskindans (2017)

Do you remember when we were younger, going to a dank, dark club and hearing hard synths and industrial clatter for the first time?  This wasn't the world our parents raised us in.  Still, there was something alluringly ominous in the sound.  Who are these pale, emaciated people?  Is this what music sounds like in East Berlin?  Do their women wear shiny boots and carry whips?  Should I be taking a different drug?

Now we stand in the future.  A new age of artificial intelligence and robotics emerges, its shadow looming larger as it steps into the light.  This is more than driverless cars, on-line shopping, and drones.  What will it mean to share the planet with machines?  When the singularity comes, are we master or servant?

Earlier this week, I was in an ultramodern office, with full-length glass opening to idyllic woods.  At long tables, young people of every race and gender sat expressionless at computers, programming the future.  Their leader h…

Gigolo A Go Go - Episode 5

Welcome to Episode 5, featuring some Alt Country, Americana type songs (I'm never really quite sure what to call them) that I've been digging and writing about over the past few years.  This mix has a different vibe from the first four episodes, but damn, these songs are beautiful and the groove holds up.

I really enjoyed kicking the mix off with a twelve minute Lucinda Williams tune.  The extended length gives the song time to breath, like a good wine (or bourbon).

This mix also includes one of my favorite songs of the decade (Cigarettes & Truckstops), the best cover of the decade (The Promise), and a song that brings back a memory so beautiful that I can actually listen to it without getting sad.

Anyhow, here is the playlist:

Faith And Grace by Lucinda Williams

Gypsy Epilogue by Tony Joe White

Deeper Well by Emmylou Harris

Calling Cards by Neko Case

Cigarettes & Truckstops by Lindi Ortega

Since You Put Me Down by Margo Price

Iuka by The Secret Sisters

Where The Whippoorwill…

Mysteries Of Nature - Mouth Breather

from the single Mysteries Of Nature (2017)

There is something irresistible about a song with a hard, electric guitar riff forming the its central hook.  When that riff sits atop a groovy groove, and is complimented by excellent vocals and a mystical swirl, it becomes something infinitely more.

Such is the case with Mysteries Of Nature by Mouth Breather.  This Montreal-based band displays incredible originality in its eclectic, electronic-glam arrangements.  Hmm, is glamtronica the name of a future music genre?

Another thing I dig about this song is the vocal hook of the song's title, with the singer endlessly repeating:

We're all mysteries of nature
Mysteries of nature.

Of course, we are.  Some of us more than others.

Click Here to watch the official video to Mysteries Of Nature.

Dig Down - Muse

from the single Dig Down (2017)

Some artists create music for small, intimate rooms.  Places like The Bitter End and The Stephen Talkhouse.  Acoustic music sounds great here.  Other bands play larger venues.  Clubs.  Concert Halls.  Arenas.

Muse is a band whose sound is designed for massive audiences.  Fuck Wembley, Muse is broadcasting globally with a sound that fills the planet.  I dig that.

Check out the groove.  The build.  The soaring vocals that - at times - evoke George Michaels and Freddie Mercury.  The staccato theatrics of it all.

Muse is something to behold.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Dig Down.

Call The Police - LCD Soundsystem

from the single Call The Police / American Dream (2017)

There is something magically buoyant about an electric bass guitar pulsing eigth-notes on the root of a rock song.  It forms the foundation of some of the best music of the early eighties.  Bands like U2, The Alarm, and even The Cars launched careers by pulsing eigth-notes.

On their new single - Call The Police - LCD Soundsystem show that the formula still works.

How fun would it be to stand on the stage with them at Glastonbury, a Fender Precision slung low, pulsing out this bottom riff to a massive, swaying sea of humanity?

Click Here to listen to Call The Police.

How To Boil An Egg - Courtney Barnett

from the single How To Boil An Egg (2017)

I believe that the future of rock and roll belongs to women.

The reason is pretty straight-forward, in the sixty years since Elvis changed the course of popular music, rock and roll has exploited every possible archetype of male persona, making it nearly impossible for new artists not to be "retreads" of past rock stars.

On the other hand, the female persona remains largely untapped, offering the promise of something different, something new.

Sadly, many pioneering "women of rock" positioned themselves as female versions of male rock personas.  This makes sense considering the sexism of the genre.  Fortunately, this leaves the door open for today's women.

Courtney Barnett is a prime example of what is possible.  A young Australian poet with a guitar, she sings of the seemingly mundane and trivial aspects of day to day life in a way that speaks to higher - never before spoken - truths.  She does this over a rambling rock…

You're In Love With A Psycho - Kasabian

from the album for Crying Out Loud (2017)

Why has it taken so long for someone to write a song titled You're In Love With A Psycho?  From what I glean of human history, this phenomenon has been screwing up people's lives since the beginning of recorded time.

You're in love with a psycho
You're in love with a psycho
And there's nothing you can do about it

We've all been there.  But aside from this catchy chorus, there is so much more that I dig about this tune.  Its deluge of hooks starts right from the opening measures.  The beat, the groove, the backing vocals, the electric guitar, and the vocal melodies all grab the listener, commanding them to join in the fun.

I also dig the use of '80s tones, particularly the synths.

Lastly, the lyric make me smile, ripe with Bukowski mentions and other groovy references.

This is good, mindless indie-pop.

Click Here to listen to You're In Love With A Psycho.